Un homme âgé déprimé assis sur un canapé.

Finally a cure for Alzheimer’s disease thanks to genetics?

Alzheimer’s is a incurable neurodegenerative diseaseaffecting more than 50 million people in the world. Unfortunately, men and women suffering from this condition have generally been diagnosed very late. Indeed, the first symptoms only appear 10 to 20 years after the onset of the disease. A early diagnosis would then prevent the destruction of nerve cells before the appearance of the first complications.

A depressed elderly man sitting on a sofa.

This is why, of researchers from the Hong Kong Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (HKCeND) decided to develop an early diagnosis method, then a gene therapy against Alzheimer’s disease. This center was founded in 2020 to fight degenerative diseases that affect millions of people around the world.

The HKCeND aims in particular to become a referral center for the treatment of diseases which cause degeneration of the nervous system. He benefited from a seed funding of HK$500 million to fund this research.

Early diagnosis of the disease using biomarkers

The first ones genome sequencing assays responsible for Alzheimer’s disease were performed on Chinese patients. A first basis of chinese genetic data complete could then be established. Neuroscientists were then able to identify genetic markers of Alzheimer’s disease based on these data. They were then able to develop a new diagnostic method by detecting the blood biomarkers of the disease.

Indeed, these Chinese researchers were able to identify a panel of blood protein biomarkers in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease from a single drop of their blood. They believe that health centers should use systematically this diagnostic tool for the early detection of Alzheimer’s in populations at risk.

How about treating Alzheimer’s disease with gene therapy?

In general, the genetical therapy is ineffective for the treatment of brain diseases because genetic material cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. However, the Chinese team managed to develop an administration vehicle capable of transporting genes across this barrier.

This revolutionary treatment is simple and non-invasive. It is administered intravenously. So they were able prevent mutations cause of Alzheimer’s disease. the brain is then protected and halted disease progression.


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